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Marta Bergman • Director

"A woman who discovers she can find freedom all by herself"


- CANNES 2018: We met with Marta Bergman, whose first full-length fiction film, Alone at My Wedding, has been awarded a place in this year’s ACID line-up

Marta Bergman • Director
(© Filip Van Roe)

A graduate of INSAS, Marta Bergman is known for her various documentaries, especially those featuring and focusing on Rom communities. She gave us films such as Clejani, Heureux Séjour and, of particular note here, Un jour mon prince viendra. The latter followed three young Roma girls in their search for a Western man - and a better life - and their story sowed the seeds for Alone at My Wedding [+see also:
film review
interview: Marta Bergman
film profile
, Bergman’s first full-length fiction film, presented in the ACID section of the 71st Cannes Film Festival: the tale of a young woman who leaves her village behind in a bid to find freedom elsewhere.

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Cineuropa: How did you come across Pamela’s character?
Marta Bergman:
It was actually Pamela who came to me! She was born out of the documentary films I’d made previously, in Romania especially, and out of certain situations I’d come across. I thought back to the girls I’d filmed, who no doubt ended up selling themselves, and I wondered what had become of them. Pamela’s character was born out of all this chaos: the images, the encounters, the emotions…

This isn’t my first full-length film, but it is my first full-length fiction film. I don’t draw any real boundary between documentary and fiction, each of them feeds off the other. In my documentaries, I see people as characters, and in my fiction films, I want them to have a certain truth about them.

What form does the character’s journey ultimately take?
The theme of the film is that of a woman who finds freedom, who thinks that she needs a man in order to find it, but who discovers that she can actually find it all by herself. 

Pamela is torn between her needs as a woman and her role as a mother…
Exactly, and this division is felt in each and every sequence. Her grandmother, her community – these are the things which she’s trying to escape from but which she also needs. Back in her village, she was already isolated because she was different, because she wasn’t like the other girls; she didn’t obey the rules and she refused to take on the role expected of her by others. And then, inevitably, she is on her own again in Belgium. But she is determined to be free, as she imagines women in Belgium to be.

Are Bruno and Pamela never properly united in their mutual solitude?
Their solitude is what links them together. Bruno is someone who is very alone in life, and when Pamela bursts onto the scene, the life that she brings with her slowly but surely changes his outlook. Bruno is a man who hasn’t yet come into his own, he hasn’t found the strength to leave his parents and to be the person that he really is. Their relationship isn’t a failure, it’s a force for positive change in both of their lives.

Music features heavily in the narrative …
We started to think about music before we even started filming. I got in touch with a Romanian composer, Vlaicu Golcea, who’s more on the electro side, but who had previously arranged music for a gypsy band. We met with him before the film and he drafted some preliminary ideas for us. And then, once he’d seen the first edited scenes, he re-worked his original electro ideas. For me, it was crucial to have music more rooted in the Roma tradition. I went away and recorded a few sessions with a traditional violinist and Vlaicu then incorporated this violin-work into his music. These musical compositions are the aural embodiment of Pamela’s state of mind and emotions.

How did you react on hearing you’d been selected for the ACID programme?
I’m over the moon, of course, and the fact that it’s in the ACID section is especially fantastic because they go on to support the film, with their network of cinema auditoriums and an additional distribution circuit outside of movie-theatres, which gives us access to a different type of audience. I also like that it’s a filmmakers’ selection.

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(Translated from French)

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